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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


New tools added…

Hackney Tools - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:31pm

The cupboards over at Hackney Tools Towers are getting a bit full and so I’ll be loading up the For Sale page over the next few days. Please head on over to see the first batch of tools I have for sale. More coming soon…

Categories: Hand Tools

A Hand Cranked Handy Andy

The Alaska Woodworker - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:06pm
I picked up a large hand cranked grinder when I was in PA last spring, and just finally got around to getting it set up.  Its marked Handy Andy by Pike.  It will take an 8″ wheel, although I had to turn a bushing to fit the 3/8″ shaft.  I used a piece of cutting […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Going Dutch on the Dutch Tool Chest

Fair Woodworking - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 8:23pm
Tool chests are stupid! There. I said it, and it feels good. I literally don’t like tool chests, but I also don’t really like to brush my teeth. However, like having teeth, owning tools may require some things we don’t like. I also don’t like, no screw that! I HATE top lifting lids. What a […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Making a bowl on a table saw

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 5:57pm

Life has been busy. So here is a guy that “turned” a bowl on his table saw. Quite impressive.

I’ll be back soon.


Part 2: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Finishing details

Hand Tool Journey - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 1:08pm

Spicing up your build
The chest is pretty plain Jane as far as designs go. To spice it up, I used a few techniques that others around the Net have turned to.

Bead details break up monolithic panels. To make the fall-front door stand out, I used my 3/8” side-bead plane to put a bead on the panels adjacent to it.


The chest’s back panel also got the beading treatment. It consists of three panels joined via tongue and groove joints. The bead detail helps disguise uneven edge joints.


To break up the boredom of the as-is lid, I did a couple of things. First, I used breadboard ends. In addition to visual interest, this added strength to the lid, obviating the need for battens to keep it flat. I hope. Second, I used a round-over bit set to also add 1/8” deep rabbet along three edges. I really like how this came out.


Finally, I made my own handles. For these, I mimicked the pattern that Schwarz did on his large chest.


I didn’t do this because I worship the guy, or want to be just like him. But rather, I recognize that he’s a woodworking master and I believe that I can learn a hell of a lot by modeling his practices and design elements. And that’s in fact the case here. It was a fun intellectual challenge to reverse-engineer his design. I particularly like the small rabbet along the edges of the handles. That adds a lot of visual interest to them in my opinion.

P16-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Handle-closeup P17-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Handle-installed

Once loaded, the chest will weight over 100 pounds. So I used some 4/4 hard maple I had lying around along with ¾” oak dowels for the handle portion.

After measuring my hand, determining desired clearances from the side of the chest and tweaking for what “looked right” I came up with these handle dimensions. 1” thick x 4” long x 2 ½” high. I allowed ½” of “space” minimum all around each dowel to prevent the dowel from tearing out. I drilled a stopped hole ½” deep by ¾” wide to accept the ends of the dowel. The dowel handle is 5 ¼” long.

I chose to use bolts to affix the handle assemblies fearing that screws would eventually tear out. I centered the handle assemblies, marked them and drilled holes. Then I countersunk the inside holes to accept the washer/lockwasher/nut assemblies. After snugging them down they hold firmly.

To make the chest very mobile I added 3” casters. For those of you that prefer to do things the easy way, I suggest that you do what I did and drill and countersink the caster mounting holes in the bottom before gluing it to the sides.

Now, had I attached the casters directly to the bottom, the caster bolt ends would have protruded above the bottom shelf and scratched every tool housed there. To prevent this, I used the bottom skids as the “base” for the casters, and selected some oak stock for strength. That put the caster bolts shy of the top of the bottom shelf. That required me to countersink the bottom shelf sufficiently deep to accept, and tighten, the washers and nuts.

Keep in mind that the open lid moves the chest’s center of gravity toward the back. And by affixing my panel saws on the inside of the lid, I moved the cg back even further. Be sure to take this into account when laying out the holes for your casters. You’ll want to space them as close to the edges, and as far apart from each other, as you’re able.

I shellacked the interior to help keep my tools ship-shape once I arrive in a humid climate like the Sunshine State—that’s Florida, not South Dakota. Finishing the interior also fit my preference for clean storage. Otherwise it would have accumulated dirt and grime over time.

One pint of General Finishes Klein Blue milk paint from Woodcraft was plenty to give the exterior two full coats. Some people put a coat of BLO or poly over that because they don’t like the flat look of the paint. I, however do like the flat look so I didn’t bother with a clear coat.

Now that you’ve seasoned your build with some interesting eye candy, it’s time to deck out the interior to house your precious tools.

In my remaining posts in this series, I’ll give you all the details I didn’t have when I finished my chest. Those, plus oodles of pictures and diagrams should make it easy, peasy for you to finish your chest.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

Categories: Hand Tools

Parquetry Workshop Day 3

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:59pm

The day began with the excitement of seeing the glued-up panels.   We had slightly oversized 1/2 baltic birch plywood for each of the panels so that they could be trimmed precisely to size one the project is complete.


The first step to getting finished from this point was to moisten and peel off the kraft paper that served as the support for the assembling of the pattern, banding, and border.


It was a delicate balancing act, moistening the surface enough to remove the glued-down paper, but not so wet as to lift the veneers.  Once the paper is removed begins the tiresome task of dampening and scraping off all the glue left behind.


A quick stint on front of the fan to dry them, and then we brought out the toothing planes, scrapers, and small planes to get everything flat and smooth.


The conditions of the panels,




and the floor indicated we were making great progress.


In a normal 3-day parquetry workshop this would have been the final process,


but these guys were working so efficiently we made it all the way through a finished project by the time they left.


Using one of my panels, I demonstrated the simplest finishing approach to the parquetry, and they charged ahead.


Burnishing with polissoirs came next,


and then the molten wax treatment for the final finish.  The wax was first dripped on the surface, then trowelled around with the tacking iron.  Again it was important to use the iron delicately to melt the wax enough to impregnate the surface, but not to heat the surface enough to lift the veneer.


Once the surface was fully impregnated the panel was set aside to let cool and harden, then the excess was scraped off,


and the remaining surface was buffed with a linen rag.


The results were eye popping, and demonstrated what can be done with very little wood in a short while.  If you snoozed on this one, you loozed.  Joe and Joshua now possess another important tool for their design and fabrication toolkit for the future, and when they get home they both plan to trim their panels and build a small table around them.

Great job, guys!


Northwest Woodworking - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:39pm

Think about how you look at others’ work. You don’t look for every mistake. You look at the scope of the project, the effort required. You consider the time spent on design. You see the form, the choice of wood and think about the time taken to mill the lumber. The hours spent on joining pieces together and the detail in the joinery and the weeks spent on shaping and sanding and how the hardware is hung. You step back and look at the whole piece and you know in your heart how much it took. You congratulate the builder.

Well, do the same to your own self. Congratulate yourself on work well done. Yes do better next time. Always strive to do better, but give yourself a break every now and then. We all make mistakes.

Step back from your own projects. Give them some room to breathe. Enjoy their imperfections. Do good work and strive to do better work each time. But don’t slow yourself up with perfection.
two leaf box

Categories: Hand Tools

spoons on mine, felted stuff on hers

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:20pm

Just back from Maine – the class was great. Lie-Nielsen is right up there as one of my favorite places to be. here’s a bunch 0′ carvers hunched down at work.

bunch o carvers

I’m home now til Roy’s in 2 weeks. Lots to report, but first I must un-pack, then get to work on spoons & bowls & more. In the meantime, I posted most of what spoons I have left on the etsy site – and Maureen posted more felted stuff on hers as well. the whole house is a little crafty rabbit warren…I think I have the Is crossed, and the Ts dotted, or something like that. If you have a problem with the etsy stuff, let me know. it’s all new to me.

14-78 overall


mine - https://www.etsy.com/shop/PeterFollansbee

Two hand knit and felted bowls, woodsy green and natural brown colors, natural Waldorf inspired toys, summer home decor

hers - https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

Workshop move 2.

Kees - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:16pm
My wife's school is moving to a new location, and the old kitchen is being left behind. So I got permission to grab what I could and haul it back to my shop. I got some cabinets and a kitchen sink and have been working hard all weekend to get them up in my shop. It is still one big mess, but this is what the shop is going to look like.

In the back to the left is a metal working area, to the right next to the door is the wet area where I have plenty of space for sharpening and all other kinds of wet things. In front of that is my woodworking bench and on the left side of the shop are the "new" cabinets with plenty of space to finally store all my tools in a decent spot. The few powertools I have will have to live in the front of the garage, on wheels, so I can easiily manoeuvre them into position.

Most plumbing and electrical work is done by now, time to move all the tools from the boxes to the cabinets. Oh yeah, this is going to be one hell of a workshop!

Categories: General Woodworking

Carve Like a Master

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:45am

Very quickly after getting serious about woodworking I realized, if I wanted to make more than simple projects with square or tapered legs, I needed to develop my skills in two major areas beyond joinery. Not that there’s anything wrong with simple forms, but I wanted to push my skills well beyond the boundaries pieces like that could offer. In order to step things up, I had to learn how to turn […]

The post Carve Like a Master appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Video: Jeff Miller’s Designing and Building Chairs Class

Highland Woodworking - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:09am

We’re excited to share this video of the Jeff Miller Designing and Building Chairs class, which was shot and produced by one of our Product Tour guides, Chris Adkins.

Jeff Miller came down to our store in Atlanta last November to teach a 2-day demonstration seminar on designing and building the perfect wooden chair. You can read more about the class in contributor, Dyami Plotke’s blog entries about his feelings before the class as well as the unique experience he got to have when taking the class.

The post Video: Jeff Miller’s Designing and Building Chairs Class appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking


The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:51am
  We spent this morning, paddling around on the Margaree River, taking in all of the sights and smells that nature has to offer. It’s nice to drift along, letting the river carry you along, with no time or destination in mind.     We...
Categories: Hand Tools

A case for “case hardening”?

Matt's Basement Workshop - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:00am

Over the weekend I was resawing with my bandsaw, for the project video I’ll release later this week. All was going well until I noticed the blade started to make an unusual sound. The wood felt as if it had gotten stuck, then ALL OF A SUDDEN…BAM!!! the blade came off the wheels and it all came to an end.

on and off switch for band saw

In a moment I went from happy woodworker, to a guy who was hurriedly hitting the stop button followed by considering whether he had to go change his pants before trying to figure out went wrong. The good news is I was all clean, no mess!

The bad news is that my blade was wedged in the kerf of the 5/4 Padauk I was resawing. At this point my only option was to unplug the bandsaw, and remove the blade/wood from the machine so I could attempt to separate them. After about 30 minutes, the two were apart and I was able to resaw the remaining 4″ of length using a rip-style panel saw.

As I returned to the bandsaw I started asking myself “what went wrong, how did this happen?” “Was it my technique, the wood, or the machine itself?”

Considering how deeply the blade was wedged in the wood, and the fact the kerf was completely closed around it tells me more than likely I was dealing with a case of case hardening or at the least some reaction wood.

In fact, I should have noticed how tightly the kerf had closed on itself after only a few inches of resawing. More than likely it was the combination of the pinching wood and my pulling back slightly to readjust the cut that pulled the blade off the wheels.

Next time I’ll pay closer attention and either wedge something in the trailing kerf to keep it open for the remainder of the cut, or I’ll just stop the process entirely and consider whether I want to continue using the stock or try something else.

In case you’re not familiar with either here’s a simple definition for you:
Case hardeningA term applied to dry lumber that has residual compressive stresses, it can cause planks to unexpectedly bind on a power saw blade during ripping because once the blade cuts a kerf, the open kerf area will close in itself.

Reaction woodWood that has different characteristics than normal wood because it is formed a process in which trees bend and grow in abnormal ways due to external stresses. Reaction wood is not JUST a response to gravity; it also occurs when branches are weighed down by snow for long periods and it can occur in trees that are in an area that has strong prevailing winds and have to brace themselves against it.

case hardened wood

image courtesy of Richard Jones Furniture

Regardless of whether it was case hardening or reaction wood, the end result was the same, a momentary scary situation that turned out with a happy ending…this time.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Button, button…

McGlynn On Making - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:31am

When I was writing my blog post yesterday morning I realized I’d forgotten to make a provision for attaching the top to the table base.  I kew I needed to do it, but in the excitement of getting close to glue-up I lost sight of it.

So first thing, I drew up some quick dimensions for a batch of buttons to attach the table top, and headed out to the shop in search of a suitable off cut to use in making them.  I found a piece and went to town.  The article I linked from yesterday’s post shows Christian Becksvoort making them but cutting a rabbet across a scrap and then cross-cutting.  My scrap had the grain running in the wrong direction to do that, so I set up a dado blade to cut a rabbet in the end, then cross cut it with a hand saw to length, then repeated until all my stock was gone.  Add counter-sunk holes for a #10 screw and some chamfers and they were done.  I tossed them in a bag of linseed oil for the rest of the day after I took this picture.

Table top attachment buttons

Table top attachment buttons

Then I cut some slots in the back of the skirts to receive the buttons.  I set up stop blocks on the router table and cut these to depth in two passes.  I set the distance from the edge of the skirt to the slot about 1/16″ larger than the step in the attachment button so when they are installed they will draw the table down snugly.  The slots are long enough to allow the buttons to slide about 1/8″ in either direction when the wood moves.

Test fitting the attachment buttons to the skirts

Test fitting the attachment buttons to the skirts

How would I do this without a router table?  You could certainly chop shallow mortises in the back like this, that would be simple enough.  You could also saw or plow a thin groove and use these Z-clips from Lee Valley instead of making wood blocks.  I used them on a little side table I made once and they worked out OK…  They loosened up about a year ago, but the table is about 15 years old at this point and needs some re-jabbing anyway.  I’m replacing it with the Thorsen table, and I’ll clean it up and refinish it then.

Alternate approach -- Z-Clips from Lee Valley (click picture to visit their site)

Alternate approach — Z-Clips from Lee Valley (click picture to visit their site)

Then I started the process of sanding all of the details on the legs, skirts and stretchers.  This takes a long time, it’s mostly hand work with little pieces of sandpaper to shape and blend the details.  I have the skirts mostly done and still have work to do on the legs.  Probably two more hours before I’m ready to glue up the base.  I’m working everything up to 150 grit first, then I’ll go back over everything with 180, 220 and probably 320.  It makes a big difference to my eye.  The color of the sanded wood looks much lighter because it has sawdust in the pores, I’ll clean it between grits and wipe it with water to raise the grain (san scuff sand it again) before assembly.

Detailing the skirts -- one skirt is untouched and the other is done to 150 grit.

Detailing the skirts — one skirt is untouched and the other is done to 150 grit.

The other pair f skirts, also to 150 grit.

The other pair f skirts, also to 150 grit.

The BBQ Update

By the way, the pulled pork came our excellent.  It was on the smoker from 11:30pm Saturday night until 5:30pm Sunday (18 hours).  You want to putt it off when the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees.  I wrapped it in foil and let it rest an hour, then shredded it with a fork and tossed it with a little BBQ sauce.  The best way to serve it is on a bun with a scoop of cole slaw in my opinion, but my family doesn’t like slaw.  Tonight, as penance for the BBQ excess, I’m sticking with brown rice and tofu…

18 hours on the smoker, just in time for dinner

18 hours on the smoker, just in time for dinner

Categories: General Woodworking

I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine Stritch thanks to my wife...

Giant Cypress - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 3:08am

I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine Stritch thanks to my wife many years ago. There won’t be another like her. Hope you enjoy yourself in Gay Paree, Elaine.

On Closing the Spokeshave Series – Last One for Now

Paul Sellers - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 8:31pm

A difference between cast-metal spokeshaves and wooden spokeshaves is the dynamic of bevel-up and bevel-down cutting iron I spoke of in an earlier post in the series. The two differences may possibly appear to present the blade similarly but that’s not the case. Regardless of spokeshave type, the bevel forming the cutting edge will be ground and honed at 30-degrees. When the bevel-up iron negotiates the wood, the bevel being 30-degrees (or what is on the blade if ground and honed differently), the presentation to the wood will be 30-degrees. On the other hand, because the blade is elevated to 45-degrees on metal-cast spokeshaves, and the bevel is on the underside of the blade so that the bevel faces down, the angle of presentation to the wood is then 45-degrees. Some say that this 15-degree presentation makes the spokeshave useless for planing or shaving endgrain and this again is not true at all. The marginal difference is discernible but don’t be put off. Sharpness will make all the difference and you can indeed shave endgrain just fine. The physics of the two different presentations are important because often the bevel up presentation will not tackle certain aspects of wood grain and vice versa. The ability to switch between the two types is highly valued and so you will eventually need both. My suggestion is that you but the bevel down #151 type first and when you think you need the other, go for it.


The Bevel-down #151 -  Blade Presentation Strategy

The blade on the #151 protrudes through the sole of the spokeshave and so, when you place the spokeshave on the wood it immediately enters the surface wood and starts the cut from penetration. This causes a slight step-down in the surface. To prevent this we lightly present the spokeshave to the surface and at the same time push forward so as to feather-entry into the work in an elongated sweep starting from zero and, over a couple of inches, follow through to full depth, which is indeed governed by difference between the sole and the protruding cutting iron. 


The Bevel-up Spokeshave – Blade Presentation Strategy 

On the other hand, because the sole of the wooden-bodied spokeshave is the blade itself, we create an additional feature that toes-in the leading edge of the spokeshave, the wooden part. This angle allows us to lead the spokeshave forward into the cut and it is best to do this with firm but gentle pressure until the cutting edge starts from a feather edge that is more controlled by the beveled leading edge than the sole or underside of the blade itself.


Do you need adjusters?

This is another question I am often asked and my answer could be yes or know. Yes they are not essential, and, yes, they do make life much easier. Here again the misinformant says there is lots of whiplash in poorly engineered models and that’s true, but whiplash makes almost no difference at all. Once the spokeshave is adjusted and you tweak an extra 1/8th turn on the setscrew to cinch the blade tightly to the bed the blade will not move. Adjusters are the way to go if you are intent on working efficiently. Comparing say the non-adjuster model #150 to the #151 adjustable spokeshave is night and day to me.

Why I Did this Series

I posted this series to counter the culture proclaiming that the Stanley 151-type spokeshave will be found badly lacking and that using the standard Stanley 151 spokeshave model results always in “chatter, screeching and cursing.” This erroneous and misleading statement saddens me because it’s a statement against hundreds of thousands of professional and amateur woodworkers who used them through ten decades with no such results. Between the 1950-60s, when a spokeshave came from the manufacturer, mostly Record and Stanley, we expected to have to fettle them and take care of manufacturer’s flawed workmanship in their products made here in the UK. This included planes and other tools too. It was and still is a sad condition pandemic throughout British-made goods made mostly in Sheffield. Those manufactures now relied on the past reputation of the industry fathers who earned their reputations. This demise resulted from complacency and perhaps a lack of competition and I am glad that US makers stepped in a few decades ago to make up for the shortfall and created high quality products that replaced them. British industry should be shamed by this indeed but I haven’t seen that. Even today much of Sheffield tool manufacturing for woodworking tools still survives despite shoddy workmanship even though much of what does survive and exist is because US demand for traditional tools has created a market and Americans still believe that UK and Sheffield goods have a valid reputation. What Sheffield makers have in most of what I see are good materials poorly prepared and assembled.  They indeed spoil the ship for a half-penny worth of tar and forsake their reputation for the sake of a few minutes invested the final refinement of product.

So, that settled, and though we shouldn’t have to, it takes only a few minutes to rework the bed of the spokeshave and prepare it to receive the blade. Once done, you never need do it again. Of the hundreds of spokeshaves I have salvaged from neglect, almost none of them had any remedial work done to them. They all worked just fine as far as I can recall.


The post On Closing the Spokeshave Series – Last One for Now appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Four-Stroke Mortise And Tenon

Close Grain - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 7:16pm

The tools and materials required: clockwise from left, two pieces of 2" wide pine stock perfectly squared around, mortising gauge, mallet, marking knife, crosscut and rip backsaws, pair of bench hooks, paring chisel, primary mortising chisel, narrow mortising chisel, chisel-pointed pencil, and square.

This is a pre-proofread draft, but I wanted to get this out quickly. I'll clean it up tomorrow.

In Four-Stroke Tenoning Exercise, I said that the method could be applied to mortises as well. Here it is, in obsessive detail.

That post has most of the backstory, but there's some additional background on mortising. The two methods for mortising I'm familiar with are:
  • Chop it out with a chisel (bench or mortise chisel of various styles).
  • Drill the bulk of the waste out, then pare to the lines.
I generally prefer to chop it with a chisel, for no reason other than personal preference. But just as expecting a tenon to fit right off the saw is challenging for a beginner, so is getting a good mortise right off the chisel.

The main difficulty I've observed is keeping the chisel straight vertically when pounding on it with a mallet, and keeping it from twisting. It doesn't take much error at all to end up with a meandering mortise edge down its length, with various bulges and hollows in its walls.

What should be flat planar walls end up pretty bumpy. This makes it difficult to get a snug fit, and imparts twist or misalignment to the tenon when inserted.

The advice I'm familiar with is never to attempt to improve a mortise other than cleaning up obvious protrusions, because pretty much anything you do will end up widening it. Then the tenon that was gauged to the same chisel width as the mortise will be too loose.

As I was working out the four-stroke exercise, I had an epiphany. Why not combine the expected paring of the drilled mortise with the chiseled method? Plan on paring, and adjust the tenon width beforehand with that expectation.

I can hear the howls of outrage now! That's not the way you should do it! That's just wrong! But bear with me here. You can apply the four-stroke method to the mortise walls and get the same quality results it gives with the tenon. You just need to coordinate the two.

The other good news is that every step here improves your skill with saw and chisel, and you are practicing the traditional straight-from-the-saw tenon and straight-from-the-chisel mortise even as you add the paring steps. Eventually you may decide to eliminate the paring because your saw and chisel skills have eliminated the need for them.

I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that this is a common method somewhere. People have been doing this for centuries, so I'm probably not the first person to come up with this bright idea.

Mortise Layout

Make sure the stock you're working with is perfectly square around. The ends need to be reasonably square, but not perfect. Mark reference face and edge on each. You will work both pieces with matching face sides. That's how you know if you have one of the pieces upside down.

Layout the width of the tenon piece on the mortise piece. Leave about a half-inch of extra length on the mortise piece. This is called the horn; it provides extra wood to maintain strength to avoid splitting or blowing out the end grain when chopping the mortise. You saw it off and plane it flush after the joint is glued up.

Mark the length of the mortise in between the edge marks for the tenon piece, about 1/8" to 1/4" in.

Mortise piece left, tenon piece right. The face side is up on both pieces. The mark corresponding to the right edge of the tenon piece is about a half inch down, leaving a temporary horn for strength. The mortise ends are marked inside the edge lines.

The trick to all this is in the setting of the mortise gauge. This is a marking gauge with two pins that can be adjusted for width. Normally you set the width of the pins by setting your mortise chisel on them and adjusting them so that their tips are the width of the chisel.

Instead, drop the chisel between them so that the their sides are the width of the chisel. This offsets the tips, which do the actual marking, by about 1/32". That's it. You've just compensated for the paring you plan to do.

If you have a different type of mortise gauge, one with wheels or knives, you simply have to set the extra gauge width by hand.

The only consequence of this is that it affects the size of chisel you use. The width of a mortise should be between 1/3  and 1/2 the thickness of the stock. Less than 1/3, and you'll have beefy mortise walls but the tenon will be weak. More than 1/2, and tenon will be beefy but the mortise walls will be weak.

You still need to follow these guidelines, but now you have an extra 1/16" of width to factor in. So your 1/4" chisel that was a perfect third of 3/4" stock will no longer produce a mortise exactly 1/3 the thickness. However, it's still within the 1/2 requirement.

The problem is if you were planning on using a 3/8" chisel; that plus the extra width would be too much.

Set the pins of the mortise gauge to the width of the chisel. Here I'm using a 1/4" mortise chisel.

Closeup: that means drop the chisel all the way down between them.

Adjust the body of the gauge until the pins are reasonably centered on the thickness of the stock when referenced from the face side. Everything here is referenced from the face side, so double check that every time you apply the gauge to a piece.

That way, if the mortise is slightly offset from center, the tenon will be correspondingly offset; but if you turn one or the other upside down, the offset will be on the wrong side.

Press the face of the gauge against the face side of the mortise piece, tip it so the pins trail, and mark the mortise width between the end marks. Mark using repeated light passes; too heavy a pass tends to get caught in the grain. Run the chisel point of the pencil down the lines to make them more visible.

Trail the pins as you push the gauge between the end marks. You can also do it the opposite way, tip the gauge toward you and pull it from the far mark. But keep the body firmly pressed against the face side of the stock.

The darkened gauge lines.

You can mark the tenon now, but I'm going to save it for later once we know the actual depth of the mortise. So keep the gauge around, don't lose its setting. But you can certainly layout the tenon for a specific mortise depth, and make sure the mortise is that depth. I'm not paying a whole of attention to absolute numerical measurements here.

Chopping The Mortise

Other than the extra width, this mortise follows the traditional pattern. I'm following the chopping method detailed by Paul Sellers. Most other authors describe a similar method, but with some variation in the fine details (or annoyingly, they omit the fine details!).

Note that I'm doing a blind mortise here, the simplest type, not a through mortise. But a through mortise is essentially two blind mortises started from opposite sides that meet in the middle. That requires more formal layout of the mortise ends, since they need to be transferred around the piece from the first side to the second to ensure alignment.

Start the mortise chisel about 1/16" to 1/8" from one end of the mortise, holding it dead vertical, centered between the gauge lines. The key thing is to have the bevel facing away from that end, facing the direction of travel down the length of the mortise.

I like to stand at the end and sight down the piece so I can watch the chisel alignment side to side and make sure it stays vertical. The angle forward and back is less critical. I start the chisel at the near end, with the bevel facing the far end.

Make the first cut with the chisel very lightly, about 1/16" deep. Then advance the chisel about 1/8" and drive it a little deeper with the mallet. For each step forward, you can drive the chisel deeper, to that same depth; by the time you have progressed 1" down the length of the mortise, the chisel should be going in about 1" deep.

You'll notice that the wedging action of the bevel on the forward side pushes the chisel back into the previously cut wood, starting to break it out. Meanwhile the end grain wood ahead of the chisel will by cut at the bevel angle.

Lever the chisel forward as you go to pry out the waste. Proceed this way progressively deeper until you reach 1/16" from the far end. Pay attention to the total depth so you don't go too deep.

Start the chisel 1/16" from the near end, bevel facing the far end. Sight down the chisel and workpiece so that it is aligned with the gauge lines and edges.

Closeup of the chisel centered between the gauge lines and visually aligned with them even though it is vertical.

After two steps forward down the length of the mortise, levering the chisel forward to pry out the waste and flick it aside. Removing as much waste as you can while you go makes it easier to clean out.

Sighting down the chisel from the back side to maintain alignment.

Getting pretty deep! Now the chisel is sliding down the far slope along its bevel a significant distance as it cuts.

Last chop at the far end, about 1/16" from the line. I got a little too close with this one.

The chisel slides down backwards on its bevel, leaving a sloped end.

At this point, the mortise will be an inverted triangle in the wood, stepped in increments on the near slope, and cut smoothly on the far slope.

This is where the narrow mortise chisel comes in. Push it down the near slope bevel up, cutting down the steps. Its narrower width allows it to fit in easily, and its narrow edge concentrates the cutting force. Clean out as much loose waste as you can; it tends to get packed in.

Push the narrow chisel down the slope to clear it out.

Inside the mortise, with smooth far slope and choppy near slope.

To finish off the joint, come backward from the far end. Start by angling the chisel back at the bevel angle, so the bevel rides straight down as you strike the handle with the mallet.

From there, simple spin the chisel around, so the bevel faces the near end, and chop the return path the same way as the outgoing path. Because there's little or no wood behind the chisel now to resist it, you'll notice it slides backward and deep quickly. Clean it out again with the narrow chisel.

If necessary, make another series of cuts to go deeper. The narrow chisel is useful for this as well, since the primary chisel can get jammed up along the walls as the mortise gets deeper. You can use the tip to perforate the floor and break up the fibers, then scrape it back and forth.

At the far end, angle the chisel back at the bevel angle, so the bevel is perpendicular to the wood, and chop down. The bevel will ride straight down.

Cleaning out the deep junk with the narrow chisel.

Now finish off each end. Set the primary mortise chisel on the end line, bevel facing into the mortise. Make sure it is dead vertical both side to side and forward and back. Look along both axes to verify. Once you're sure, chop straight down. It should be easy because there's very little wood to remove. Clean this last bit of waste out.

Chop dead straight down the near end with the bevel facing into the mortise. Then spin the chisel around and repeat at the far end.

At this point you have a traditionally chopped mortise. If you're getting a good mortise with straight edges and flat walls, maybe you don't need to use the paring method. Otherwise, this makes good practice. You'll find your initial mortises will get better and better over time.

The chopped mortise, ready for paring.

Paring The Mortise

This is where we really deviate from the norm. This is what you would do if you had drilled out the waste with a series of holes instead of chopping it.

As with the four-stroke exercise, the gauge lines form a recess to drop your chisel into, precisely positioned. That's how that method applies here.

You need to have a razor sharp paring chisel, and pare straight down the mortise walls. It should be easy to pare across the grain because there's only a thin layer.

Set the edge of the paring chisel into the center of the gauge line.

Sight down the chisel and along its side to make sure it's perfectly vertical.

Closeup showing the grip, pinching the chisel to the wall with finger and thumb as you push down.

Move over and make the next slice down, then do the other end. Repeat as necessary depending on the chisel width.

Spin the chisel around to the opposite wall, again pinching wood and chisel together as you push down.

Final stroke. Ok, I think the "four" stroke count has gone astray, but you get the idea.

To finish the mortise, chop down the parings in all four corners with the primary mortise chisel and clean them out. This chisel fits easily now, since the mortise is wider.

Chop straight down in each corner to sever the parings at the end of the mortise.

Setting up to chop down at the other end.

The primary mortise chisel fits into the widened mortise easily now for clean out. That's nice because the last bits of junk out is always a nuisance. Turn it upside down and scrape it out with the chisel.

The cleaned out mortise and severed parings.

To check the side walls, drop the edge of the paring chisel into the bottom of the mortise with the back flat up against the far wall. Sight down the side to see if it stands up perfectly vertically. Spin the chisel around and check the other side the same way.

If not, the wall is sloping. If it's sloping inward (narrowing at the bottom), you can carefully pare down a bit in the bottom portion of the side to get it vertical. Just don't remove too much!

If it's sloping outward (widening at the bottom), you're in trouble. You can pare the upper parts of the wall, which means you'll need to make the tenon wider...and now you're down the whole problem path we were trying to avoid. So err on the side of walls that slope inward.

Set the edge of the chisel in the bottom where it meets the far wall and push the back up against the wall. It should be vertical.

Spin the chisel around and check the near wall.

I found just a bit of inward slope in the bottom of the mortise on one side, so I pared that down and cleaned it out.

The final mortise, ready to accept the tenon.

In part 2, we'll use the four-stroke method to precisely form the tenon.

Categories: Hand Tools

You know it ain’t easy.

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 4:54pm

Just like many things in my life lately, my woodworking over the past few days has been disjointed. Before I completed the door for the little built in cabinet I made for the garage, I decided to do a little work on the dado plane I picked up from Ebay.

The first act of restoration was taking the plane apart. Thankfully, everything looked good, though the screws for the depth stop mechanism were definitely not original to the plane. I did a little bit of work on the wedges by laying a sheet of 220 grit sand paper on my workbench and giving both of them a light sanding/flattening. I then cleaned the plane, first with mineral spirits (very lightly), and then some linseed oil, getting it in all the nooks and crannies. While the plane dried I cleaned the depth stop mechanism with Brasso. The turning knob shined up brilliantly, but the screw itself took a little bit of work, as it had many, many years of dust and grime on it. I probably spent a good 15 minutes on the screw alone, and while it is not shiny, I definitely got it clean. Finally, I wiped off the linseed oil and applied a coat of paste wax. Next step was the iron.

Cleaned up plane

Cleaned up plane

Before I did anything, I flattened both the tang on the iron and the knicker using a ballpeen hammer, which was easy enough. I then cleaned the iron with some camellia oil. I spent a good 15 minutes flattening the back with the 1000 grit water stone. The back was reasonably flat to begin with, but I wanted to be certain. To hone the actual bevel itself I used a Veritas honing guide, which works well on skewed irons. That part took around 25 minutes, as I worked very deliberately. I wanted to get it as perfect as possible so future sharpenings would go more smoothly. Happily, I managed to achieve a really nice edge, and the old blade held up beautifully. With that, I called it a job done. I didn’t really touch the knicker other than the tang, as I am not all that sure how to sharpen them.

Sharp iron

Sharp iron

Saturday morning I started and completed the door for my built-in. I ran into a bit of a problem; the boards I set aside for the rails were not really long enough. I was shooting for a one inch long tenon, with a quarter inch stub. After squaring the boards and cutting them to usable size, I only had enough length left for about a 5/8 inch tenon, which I suppose is better than nothing. Either way, there is nothing much to report on that job, as it was basically a small bit of trial and error, measuring, sawing, and some handplaning. In fact, here is a good tip for making a tongue and groove joint on a table saw: Always make the tongue/tenon first, then use the tongue to set the fence of the table saw to make the groove. It takes a bit more work than setting up a dado stack, but at the same time eliminates the trial and error process of setting up a dado stack to begin with.

Finished door with pull

Finished door with pull

The last job of the day was hanging the door. Hanging a door sometimes isn’t easy, but I found a little trick that sometimes helps. Before I assembled the door and glued it, I mortised the hinges into hinge side stile and hung it onto the cabinet. It is much easier dealing with one 2 inch wide board rather than an entire door (this works well on a smaller door, but on a heavier door it may not work as well due to sagging) After I had a nice fit I glued up the door, checked it for square, and let it dry over night. This morning, I installed a pull ring and re-hung the entire door. The fit is nice, but not perfect, but at least the gaps are even, and the door opens and closes smoothly.

With this project finished I probably won’t woodworking much for the rest of the summer. Hopefully if all goes well over the next few weeks I will get started on making my smooth plane. Otherwise, I don’t plan on building any furniture. This project wasn’t very difficult, but that is a relative term. I’ve yet to build anything out of wood that was simple, even if the design itself was. This project was no exception. For what it’s worth it was fun, woodworking usually is, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

Categories: General Woodworking

Part 1: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-What I wish I knew before my build

Hand Tool Journey - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 1:05pm

Chris Schwarz’ plans for building a Dutch tool chest in Popular Woodworking Magazine are pretty straight forward. It’s an easy build. I would have loved more detail on making the lid. And if by “more” you take that to mean “any”, then you’re correct. The drawings for the large tool chest also fail to show the notches you’ll need to cut into the middle shelf to accommodate the battens on the fall-front door. Other than that, the plans did their job.

P01-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Virgin top section

That is, until I got to configuring the interior. Completing this part of the project easily took longer than the build itself. Yes, you can fit a lot of tools into the chest. But you need to pay careful attention to how you pack them in. Particularly in the top portion. The tolerance for error is very small. If you’re off by ¾” here or there, then the lid won’t close, or the fall front won’t seat and so forth. And fixing those errors doesn’t just burn time, it leaves surfaces pockmarked with filled holes.

The following installments will give you rich detail about how I configured my chest. They include all the tips, tricks and fixture ideas that I wish I had had when I was working on my chest. I hope my content helps you achieve three goals:

1. Dramatically cut the time it takes you to complete your chest
2. Avoid unsightly errors and
3. Give you some ideas about how you may wish to set up your own toolchest

The fixtures I built resulted in a chest that includes efficient storage for two panel saws, a whole gaggle of chisels, a marking gauge, a marking knife, a combination square; four bench planes (try/jointer; jack; smoother; block); joinery planes (skew rabbet; router; grooving); boring tools (brace & bits) some files and a bunch of other stuff.

But why bother?
“Honey, I got the contract for the Florida job,” said my lady. Nice! Boca Raton and Del Rey are some upscale areas in the state. So we (Gail, me and Bella, our black lab) had visions—yes, the dog had visions, she loves water—of temporarily moving there for the duration of the contract.

Well, if Gail was going to have her dog there, I by gum was going to have my woodworking. So I needed a chest.

What I like most about Schwarz’ Dutch tool chest design is its mobility and ample storage. I figured that I could indeed equip it with a complement of tools sufficient to build things. And I could do it with tool duplicates too! You see, you really do need that second, or third jack plane after all.

For you woodworking newbies out there, this is a fantastic early project to build. It will not only teach you a lot, but you’ll have a nice, compact space to store your hand tools when you’re finished.

That’s the “why” of the Dutch tool chest. Next time, I’ll talk about spicing up your build with some bead and round-over details.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

Categories: Hand Tools

Preparing Woodworkers for a Brighter Future

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 12:40pm

Woodworking as a craft is one of mankind’s oldest uses of technology, and each generation has passed along knowledge about how to, when to and why to. Technology has changed within the craft itself and the way in which information moves from older to younger. A lot of things that used to be made out of wood are now constructed of different materials, but woodworking is still an important part […]

The post Preparing Woodworkers for a Brighter Future appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking


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by Dr. Radut